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Neural Correlates of Birth: Labor Contractions Induce C-Fos Expression In Newborn Rat BrainAt birth, the newborn mammal must make rapid adaptations to the extrauterine environment to survive. We have previously shown that labor contractions augment the appearance of adaptive responses at birth, viz., postpartum breathing and the onset of suckling. Since neuronal activity has been shown to upregulate the activity of immediate early genes (IEGs) in the brain, we analyzed the neural distribution of c-Fos protein expression in newborn rats using immunohistochemistry. Previous studies have reported a burst of c-Fos mRNA expression in mouse and rat brain at birth however relationships to labor and delivery have not been examined. In the present study, we exposed near-term rat fetuses to elements of the vaginal birth process: 1) Simulated labor contractions. 2) Postpartum cooling (22 deg C). 3) Umbilical cord occlusion. and 4) Stroking to mimic postpartum licking by the dam. Cardinally delivered newborns (VG) were compared with those delivered by cesarean section following either prenatal exposure to compressions (C) [simulated labor contractions], or no compressions (NC) [no labor contractions]. Similar patterns of c-fos activation were observed throughout hypothalamic and thalamic nuclei, hippocampus and cerebral cortex in VG and C newborns that were not apparent in NC newborns. Our results indicate that labor contractions play a role in the induction of widespread neural activation in the newborn brain.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Ronca, A. E.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Daly, M. E.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Baer, L. A.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Hills, E. M.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Conway, G.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Dalton, Bonnie
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2002
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 121-10-40
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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